As moderated by Chris Kenneally of the Copyright Clearance Center, the “New Business Models for Publishers” panel featured three digital publishing trailblazers.
“We’re at the forefront of a new world,” said Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks. “With our digital resources we can now get the right book to the right person in ways we never could before. I’ve been a publisher for 25 years, and now I’m also a software developer,” she said. Sourcebooks has developed ways to simplify common concerns by identifying “pain points,” such as the college application process, and then finding solutions that extend far beyond books. It’s now common for Sourcebooks to also offer webinars, software, and e-books to help the consumer simplify traditionally complicated endeavors.
Andrew Savikas of Safari Books Online, a joint venture of O’Reilly and Pearson Education, now sells subscription services to consumers. “Our models for this are Netflix, TaskRabbit and Pandora. We realized there was no reason why the same model couldn’t be applied to e-books.” Sourcebooks now has a subscription model as well, specifically for its successful romance line “Discover a New Love” which launched six months ago. Consumers buy one romance e-book a month for $5.99 out of a choice of four titles. “We just keep testing and adding to the model,” Raccah said.
There is no doubt that in the last four years have brought a dramatic shift in publishing, from print to multimedia. David Nussbaum of F+W Media, a community-focused content creator and marketer of products and services for enthusiasts, said that when it comes to their primary specialty – art and crafts – only 10%of their services come through books, and the rest from other formats such as magazines, e-commerce, educational videos, and e-books. “We reach six million consumers a month,” Nussbaum said, “and we learn about them from a preferences perspective. The more you learn about your consumers, the better your income stream will be. The challenge lies in building an audience for your product.”
Safari Books Online sells and markets to IT professionals, engineers, and corporate customers. Savikas said that reference publishing has changed a great deal with digital and electronic advances. “One of our customers is a large bank that found itself having to train its employees in a new technology,” said Savikas. “We had the resources to create a syllabus for them, a curriculum, and short, concise e-books to facilitate the training process. It made a tremendous difference.” Nussbaum, who does not have a background in the book business, agreed. ‘We think beyond the book when developing content,” he said. “F+W doesn’t acquire books, we acquire content and then offer packages of goods to the consumer. The product goes from being a book to a business. Look at all the tech companies here at BEA.”
All three panelists concur that they’re now using data in all their publishing decisions; the subscription model in particular allows for a profound acquisition of data. “We can even track which chapters of a book are hot, and which aren’t,” said Savikas. Raccah appreciates the ability to look at trends so specifically, and noted that this helps Sourcebooks develop exclusive content and position books more effectively. “With the new model, authors are seeing higher compensation. For instance, we publish Georgette Heyer, who died in 1974. She had her most successful year in 2011.”